Sewing basics: knit tops.

When I realised I could make my own clothes, I dreamed about special dresses with unusual prints and clothes for special occasion. I will admit that sewing basics wasn’t really a priority. A couple of years passed, and my RTW basics are getting more and more worn out, to the point of non return. I didn’t buy almost any RTW clothes in the past 2 years and a half, which means that it’s time to replace them with something handmade. On my list I have new underwear/lingerie, jeans and knit tops.

Knowing this, last summer while in Italy, I purchased the book “Coudre le strech” by Marie Poisson (if you buy it in Europe is way cheaper). I don’t have many knit patterns (2 maybe?), so for me it was worth it to have this book as a reference for basic knit tops. The book has 8 patterns and each of them has countless variations, different necklines, sleeve length and so on, the size range is 34-52 french. Before buying it I read a lot of reviews, and I’m really happy with my purchase. This book is very well known in the french sewing community, since it’s only in french, which is a pity, because I think it’s a great resource. I sew interchangeably in english and french so for me it’s not a big issue, but I would still recommend the book to non-french speaker, since the patterns are quite easy to follow with clear drawings. I wouldn’t recommend it to beginner sewist though, because it’s not very easy to navigate, you’ll have to flip through it quite a lot.

I made four tops from this book, using three different patterns. I wanted classic breton stripe long sleeve top, a long sleeves top with a ballerina neckline, and a knit top with an interesting neckline. I’m not a huge print person on knit fabric, with the exception of stripes, that’s why my knit tops are usually in solid colors. I wear them layered under sweaters or alone in spring time.

Jeannette (la marinière)

The first top I made is a classic breton top, with light blue and white stripes. I choose to make a size 42, even if the size chart put me in a size 40. I decided to make it a little bit roomier because I compared the finished measures to my favourite breton top. I don’t regret the choice, and I really like the fit of it. I use the pattern Jeannette, with boat neck and long sleeves, and I just decided to shorten both the front (by 1 3/4″) and the back (by 1″). I also cut straight from the waistline to have a more boxy fit. For this version I used 1 1/2 yard of 61″ wide fabric but I have quite a lot of leftover widthwise. The fabric is a supersoft bamboo french terry (225 gsm) purchased from Core Fabrics during the canadian thanksgiving sales ($17 /yard). What I really like about this top is how soft it is. It’s also mid-weight, so I can both layer it under warmer sweaters, but also add an extra layer under it (when it’s really cold or during spring).

The day after I made a second version 🙂 Same fabric from the same shop, but in a different color (antique rose and white stripes). No edits. Needless to say I wear them on repeat and everytime they’re clean they’re my first choice our of my wardrobe! Here is the pink version!


The second pattern I tried is Lucette, a wrap-over top also available in countless versions. I made the long sleeves, beltless version. I wanted a comfortable layer with an interesting neckline, and I really like wrap over dressed and tops. I made a size 40 and I removed the bust darts. I have a B cup, and for me the darts were not really needed particularly because the fabric I choose had a lot of stretch. For this version I used 1 1/2 yard of 56″ wide fabric but also in this case, I have quite a lot of leftover widthwise. The fabric is a deadstock rib knit in a viscose cachemire blend. I found it in Bologna at Fashion Market last summer ($8 /yard). Thanks to the addition of cachemire, it’s both really soft, and warm for the weight of the fabric, it’s the perfect thermal piece! It’s not easy to photograph black, but here are some pictures of the top.

Finally I made the Briac, I don’t have pictures yet since it’s in the wash :D. Another success and perfect layering piece. I edited the pattern (which is a classic tshirt long sleeve pattern) changing the neckline.

Overall I highly recommend the book, if like me, you don’t already have a lot of knit patterns. I’m planning to make more basic knit tops (maybe with a twist) this spring-summer. I’d like to find a creative way to use up the leftovers from the tops shown above…maybe some sleeveless stripey tank? I clearly have a preference for stripes over any other type of print on knit …

All my stripy tops, all basically the same cut (classic breton top), but in different colors 🙂

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